The hardest part of this game is identifying what kind of a game this is. Though mostly a first person shooter, it is easily arguable that this game merges into the fields of real-time strategy and flight simulation. Yes, I am talking about Battlezone II. At first glance, this game seemed as a fun game with rich graphics, simple gameplay, and easy-to-learn concept, but under closer examination, the sad truth is that this is all this game is. The gameplay is very shallow and the storyline is a simple continuation of the first Battlezone game.
The single player continues and updates the story from the original Battlezone. There is still a secret war raging for biometal being fought by soldiers who will never get recognition for their sacrifices. The story continues with a lot of dialogue and detail between missions. Players who dislike the story can skip the extras, but there is an interesting story for those who want it. Nice voice acting and excellent pacing to the story are the two biggest pros. The first few missions unfold at an easy pace and will probably be a little annoying for veterans, but new Battlezone pilots should welcome the slow climb up the learning curve.
The action in Battlezone II is identical to its predecessor; players take the role of a young pilot in a hover tank from a largely first-person perspective. Although Pandemic has wisely added other camera options like over-the-shoulder and third-person views and a virtual cockpit on/off toggle, a favorite view was hard to choose. Perhaps something like a rear-view mirror to give us more of a view of the immediate surroundings would have been helpful. A big problem is the inability to target the nearest enemy or the enemy that is currently firing. Although players can target an opponent that is under their crosshairs, it can sometimes be difficult to find the one Scion that is picking you off from a distance.
With a built-in Gamespy type multiplayer interface, much like all newer games have, in BZ2, finding games is a breeze. There was some attempt at making this game an online hit, and with many mods, such as King of the Hill, this game has a great replay value. Games can be played in teams, free-for-all, or 1 vs 1, and can also be password protected to prevent strangers from joining. An assortment of well-made multiplayer maps each balance strategical land forms to please RTS fans, and open plains for DM'ers. Some downfalls however, is the lack of a map editor, an no established online ranking system. I doubt this game will will create a big clan following, but it sure is a quick thrill when you want to throw up a quick game of whatever to have fun with friends.
Graphics: here's where BattleZone 2 stands out the most. In BattleZone, a lot of people complained about the lack of environment, and other little details like animals. Well this problem was resolved, and in BattleZone 2, you'll not only have to contend with little animals running all over the place, but you'll also have the chance to knock down giant trees, run over little plants, and even kill those very animals you see all over the place. The textures are well done, the object details are all richly done, and at 1024x768 resolution on a good video card, this game has amazing atmospheric effects.
On topic, this game does not lack in atmosphere in any way, and when I first checked out the demo to see how this game will turn out, in the first level, I began in a dropship, and as the doors opened to unveil the outside world, I was left in awe. You can see the fog rolling around, trees and mountains looming over the horizon. As I said, the visuals are top-notch and clean. The explosions are spectacular, and when an object explodes, you can see the tiny pieces floating every which way. Some of the weapon effects aren't very impressive, but they get the job done. The sky itself is breath-taking in scope, and you can practically count all the stars. These graphics come at a price: heavy system resources are required, and the game might not run as well as you want it to, if you don't have everything top-notch.
Sound does not pack as much punch however. Poor weapon sounds, and sounds of the environment get annoying fast, and makes you want to pop in a CD, and listen to something else.
The first Battlezone was one of those games that didn't get as much attention as it deserved, weather as a result of bad marketing or something else, but Battlezone II, which was rightfully advertised, failed to meet our achievements. Though a simply fun game to play, this game put way too much effort into graphics, and certain gameplay elements were not counted for. Single player is foreshadowed by an amazing multiplayer, and this game simply becomes "boring" (lack of a better word) after a period of playing. Comparing today's game standards to those that existed when the first BZ was released, BZ2 did not meet it's expectations, but maybe this was because we expected too much from it.